Missing teen found alive near Waterloo camp

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JaTea Lejla Frank

JaTea Lejla Frank

WATERLOO, IL (KPLR) - A 13-year-old girl who went missing Monday after taking an 80 mile cab ride to a Waterloo summer camp has been found safe.

JaTea Lejla Frank ran off around 11 a.m. after taking a cab from her Mt. Vernon home to a faith-based summer program called Camp Wartburg, located in Waterloo, Illinois. Camp employees told police Frank got out of the cab, dropped her bags, and ran off on foot.

Joyce Mathes, a searcher who lives near the campgrounds, found Frank around 10:30 a.m. in some brush just up the road from the command center. She was taken to a hospital for observation.

Mathes said she asked Frank if she was hungry or thirsty, but the teen shook her head. When Mathes stuck out her hand and ask Frank to go with her, the teen tried to run. Mathes and authorities caught up to her.

Monroe County Sheriff Neal Rohlfing suspects Frank may have been the victim of bullying at school and came to the camp as a sort of cry for help. It is believed that Frank, who was at the camp June 14 to June 19, became close to one of the counselors and was trying to reach that person.

The cab driver who took 13-year-old JaTe'a Lejla Frank to the campground is now facing charges.  Casey McPeak, 55, was given a non-traffic complaint for endangering the life or health of a child.  He has been given a notice to appear in court.

Fox 2 News will have more information on this story as it becomes available. Refresh this page for the latest update.

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